At this upcoming Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, January 28-29, 2017, Cadillac will make its presence known in the top-tier of American racing once again. Returning to prototype racing after a thirteen-year slumber, the famous American marque will introduce their new DPi-V.R. This awkwardly-named monster should help bring Americans closer to high-end prototype racing in the IMSA division, though not because of the styling cues present on this new car.
While there’s been plenty of fuss made about the way in which these new cars evoke some of the angles and facets found on the road-going Cadillacs, it will be tough to find any real similarity between the two. While the wheels and headlights closely resemble those found on the CTS-V and ATS-V, the rest of the car is pure Buck Rogers.
This car is built to the new DPi formula that shares a Dallara-built chassis with the European LMP2 cars. Unlike the LMP rules which state that all their cars must all share the same bodywork and engine, the new DPi cars are allowed to tweak the nose, sidepods, and rear wheel arches to their liking. Cadillac has taken their road-going performance range as inspiration and have not stopped mentioning it. The vital aerodynamic components, like the floor, diffuser, and splitter, all remain uniform across all the entrants in this category.
Power comes from a 6.2-liter, normally-aspirated V8, built by Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines of NASCAR fame. Pushing 600 horsepower through an X-Trac gearbox, the 2,050-pound thoroughbred should have no problem devouring the straighter sections of Daytona, Sebring, and Long Beach, to name a few illustrious American circuits it will compete on next year.
With a level-playing field, this car should prove more competitive than the last Cadillac prototype, the Northstar LMP. Powered by a twin-turbo Northstar V8, and driven by Max Angelelli and Wayne Taylor, it managed several podiums and ninth at Le Mans, but never won a race. After three years, the Northstar program was scrapped in 2003.
Thirteen years later, Taylor’s sons, Ricky (26) and Jordan (24) will drive Wayne Taylor Racing’s Number 10 Cadillac, along with Max Angelelli and Jeff Gordon, who joins for the first race at Daytona. Two other DPi-V.Rs will be fielded by Action Express Racing: Number 5, with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi; and Number 31, with Dane Cameron and Eric Curran.
This car replaces the outgoing Corvette Daytona Prototype. A much softer car, the DP handled like a powerful GT car, whereas this is more akin to a single-seater. Less roll and pitch, and a stiffer chassis make this car more challenging to drive, less forgiving on the limit, but much faster overall. Its drivers will be forced to accustom themselves to the increased cornering and braking forces.
As the final stylistic touch, Cadillac designed the air intake in the shape of the Cadillac crest. Whether or not these references will help sell more plush, powerful sedans is unsure, but the DPi V.R might give Cadillac a little more street cred, if you will, and will certainly break a few necks as it thunders by with near-Indycar pace.